Forest and Freshwater foods are the edible plants, fish, fungi, trees, flowers and nuts growing naturally in our forests, lakes, rivers, wetlands and prairies. These foods have featured prominently in Indigenous culture, diets and trade for thousands of years. Today they are also increasingly recognized for playing an important role in realizing food sovereignty for Northern communities. The harvest and use of Forest and Freshwater foods has the potential to strengthen a valuable cultural heritage while promoting the health and well-being of the residents of rural and remote communities.
Across Canada, there is a growing interest in wild-crafted foods – chefs and home-cooks alike are discovering the unique flavours of Canada’s naturally occuring foods. This means there is an expanding market for foods sustainably harvested from Canada’s forests and freshwater resources. In Ontario, remarkably few people are involved in the harvest and trade of these foods. Some foods grow in abundance in our province and could be harvested sustainably and commercially. There is an opportunity to develop the forest food sector to the benefit of Ontario’s rural and remote communities – in particular, this could be an opportunity for the Indigenous communities who have title and rights to the lands on which these foods grow.